RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian children are being beaten and tortured in a “heinous” way by Israeli soldiers during interrogation, a Palestinian Authority lawyer has said.
Hiba Masalha, a lawyer for the PA committee of prisoners’ affairs, said in a statement on Sunday that teenage detainees are being “terrified, threatened and blackmailed” in contravention of international law and conventions advocating children’s rights.
Masalha said that she had visited Section 3 of Megeddo prison, where 68 Palestinian teens are currently being held.
Most of the detainees she met had been arrested from an orphanage in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Mahir Hussein, a 17-year-old schoolboy from Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank, told her that Israeli soldiers had fired gunshots into the air to threaten him and two other teenagers when they were detained.
Masalha relayed that Israeli soldiers threatened to kill Hussein before two soldiers beat him “violently.”
He was reportedly left bleeding for six hours with hands and feet cuffed. The boy said that he was afterward moved to a hospital in a military base in Petah Tiqva where doctors required “24 stitches” to seal the wound on his head.
The next day he was taken to al-Jalama interrogation center for a period of 20 days during which he was beaten and mostly confined to a wooden chair with his hands and feet cuffed, Masalha relayed.
Masalha also met with 17-year-old Wasim Taj from Tubas, who was detained along with Mahir Hussein.
He spoke of the “brutal” interrogation that they had gone though during their 20 days in al-Jalama.
Another detainee, Ibrahim Salmi, 17, told Masalha that he he had been interrogated in al-Jalama center for 15 days under dire conditions.
Masalha’s statements come a week after the head of the prisoners’ committee, Issa Qarage said that Israeli interrogators are using “oppressive and brutal” methods to frighten Palestinian detainees and force them into confessing to attacks against Israel.
Prisoners’ rights group Addameer has long reported that treatment of Palestinian detainees by Israeli forces is tantamount to torture, describing it as “widespread and systematic.”
In 2014, international rights group Defense for Children reported that 93 percent of children detained by Israeli forces were denied access to legal counsel, while others endured prolonged periods of solitary confinement for interrogation purposes, a practice that also amounts to torture under international law.
As of March 31, there were 182 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, including 26 below the age of 16.